New Bethlehem Man Receives Carnegie Medal for Saving Man from Burning Truck

12476432_1032556500119028_1421114178_nCURLLSVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Charles E. Wyant of New Bethlehem was presented with the prestigious Carnegie Medal Sunday at Grace Community Church in Curllsville.

Carnegie Hero Fund Commission representatives presented the award to Wyant for his rescue of a trapped truck driver from a fiery crash near Rimersburg on January 2, 2015.

Wyant rescued 53-year-old Michael L. Wiant from his burning tri-axle dump truck after it left Route 861, struck a guide rail and a utility pole, and then went down an embankment and overturned onto its passenger side into a shallow creek.

One of the vehicle’s fuel tanks ruptured in the accident and soaked Wiant’s clothing with diesel fuel, and flames broke out in the engine compartment and grew and spread. Wiant’s safety belt released after he struggled with it, and he then attempted to climb through the opened window of the driver’s door.

Wyant, 39, equine dentist, drove upon the scene and responded to the truck. Despite flames nine feet high issuing from its engine area, he climbed eight feet up the exposed underside of the vehicle and then advanced to the driver’s window, where Wiant was supporting his upper body outside the vehicle as his lower body remained suspended inside, amid flames that had entered the cab.

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“I started down over the bank and said, ‘Lord, you’ve got to help me,’” explained Wyant.

He grasped Wiant by an arm and pulled but could not lift him. Pulling again, hard, he lifted Wiant onto the side of the truck, although Wiant outweighed him.

“I looked at Mike right in the eyes and said, ‘You’ve got to help me,’ because I was afraid at that point he wasn’t coming out. I pulled on him with all my might and said, ‘Lord give me strength.’ This is no exaggeration. That man popped up through the window,” said Wyant.

Wiant’s coat was aflame, and Wyant pulled it off him to find that flames had spread to Wiant’s shirt. Both men then jumped into the creek, where Wyant splashed Wiant to extinguish the flames. Wyant then helped Wiant away from the truck and, with assistance from two other men, took him up the embankment to safety as flames grew to engulf and destroy the cab. Wiant was hospitalized for treatment of significant burns and other injuries.

“The only thing that prepares us for anything is how we live each and every day,” said Wyant.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission awards the Carnegie Medal to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.

Worldwide, only 84 Carnegie Medals were distributed in 2015 and only 9,821 have been distributed since the Pittsburgh-based Fund’s inception in 1904.

Throughout the 111 years since the Fund was established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, $37.7 million has been given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits, and continuing assistance.

Charlie with wife Renae, daughter Bailey and son Tucker. Photo by Tracy Milliron.

Charlie with wife Renae, daughter Bailey and son Tucker. Photo by Tracy Milliron.

Charlie Wyant with Mike Wiant. Photo by Tracy Milliron.

Charlie Wyant with Mike Wiant. Photo by Tracy Milliron.

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